The Board of Barnardos Australia today announced it has appointed Deirdre Cheers as CEO.

Deirdre is a well-known and respected leader in the child welfare sector with nine years of experience as CEO of a large NSW agency and as Chair of the industry body, the Association of Child Welfare Agencies (ACWA).

She has been Executive Director of CatholicCare in the Diocese of Broken Bay since 2007, and previously held senior management positions with Barnardos for 13 years. During her tenure at CatholicCare Broken Bay, she grew the organisation by almost 2½ times.

Deirdre has Masters Degrees in Social Work and Public Administration and has published extensively on welfare research and policy issues.

She succeeds Louise Voigt who, after thirty years as Barnardos Australia CEO, has made the decision to retire.

“We are delighted Deirdre has accepted this role. She will ensure continuity in our work in NSW and ACT and with her credentials and experience is in an excellent position to maintain our reputation and priorities. She will maintain our emphasis on child-centred, evidence-based welfare practice,” Chair of Barnardos Australia, Gabrielle Trainor, said today.

“Deirdre’s deep familiarity with Barnardo’s work and her established relationships with many of our employees and stakeholders will ensure a smooth transition."

Ms Cheers said she was looking forward to taking up her role.

“I am honoured to have been appointed to Barnardos, whose reputation as one of Australia’s leading child protection agencies has been very well earned.

“Louise and her team have built a remarkable organisation and although I have been at another great organisation, CatholicCare Broken Bay, for nine years, in some way it feels like the wheel has turned full circle.

“Barnardos’ work in ensuring children have safe and secure homes, in supporting open adoption as a means in some cases of ensuring permanency of care for children at risk, and in helping to build capacity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island welfare organisations is significant and important.

“It will be enriching to work as CEO with Barnardos’ committed team in these and the other areas in which we do all we can to protect children,” Ms Cheers said.

“The strengths of Barnardos lie in our unwavering commitment, our strong, experienced management and well-trained and dedicated staff. This will all stand us in good stead as we make the transition to a new CEO,” Ms Trainor said.

“Louise has been a highly respected and tireless advocate for child protection and has led Barnardos through significant change and growth. Deirdre is a very worthy successor and we are confident her leadership will ensure we continue to make our utmost contribution to protecting children and securing for them loving care and safe futures.”

Find out more about Deirdre Cheers.